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Watertown Regional Medical Canter offering robot-assisted surgery

Watertown Regional Medical Center has taken a major step forward in technology by offering robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci® XTM robotic surgical system.

This addition of the robotics to the operating room provides surgeons and patients with another option for minimally invasive general and gynecological surgeries, including hernia repair, gallbladder surgery, hysterectomies, and endometriosis.

“We are excited to announce we’ve received our da Vinci X surgical system and have already started using it to enhance patient care,” said Richard Keddington, CEO, Watertown Regional Medical Center. “The addition of robotic surgery gives residents of Watertown and the surrounding communities close access to the most technologically advanced care available.”

Robotic surgery is designed to enhance a surgeon’s capabilities and much like a doctor uses an MRI or CT scan to “see” inside the body, the da Vinci system is used by surgeon’s to extend the capabilities of their eyes and hands, while maintaining complete control throughout the surgical process.

“The da Vinci system is a high-tech tool we use to perform minimally invasive surgeries,” said Dr. Jason McMaster, OB-GYN at the Center for Women’s Health. “It brings advantages to the patients here,” he said.

“It gives us a greater range of motion, magnified and clearer views of the operating area, and reduces the torque on a patient, resulting in less pain and quicker recoveries,” McMaster said.

Currently, there are two surgeons at Watertown Regional Medical Center who are fully-trained on using the da Vinci system for robotic-assisted surgery. McMaster has performed hundreds of gynecological surgeries using this technique and Dr. Garrett Fleming is trained in and has performed general surgeries.

Two additional surgeon’s, Dr. Adam Dachman and Dr. Danish Siddiqui, are completing their training. It takes about a year of training to develop skills on the robotic equipment, McMaster said. “You can’t just pick it up in an afternoon,” he added. The instruments are very sensitive to movement as was evident at a demonstration at the hospital on Monday.

The first surgery at WRMC with the equipment was performed Aug. 19. McMaster is scheduled to use the new technology at WRMC today.

With the equipment, a doctor looks into a 3D screen reflecting the inside of a patient. With the use of both index fingers and thumbs, the surgeon can move instruments that are used inside the patient.

“It is exciting and it helps us keep people in our community (for surgeries),” said Patricia Gedemer, chief nursing officer. Doctors are also excited about the new technology, she added. “It helps retain and recruit surgeons.”

The decision of whether or not a surgery is performed with robotic assistance is made by the patient, with input by the surgeon.

“I walk each patient through all of the surgical options, including open surgery, traditional lacroscopic surgery, and robotic-assisted surgery,” said McMaster. “I also give them information to read about these options so they can make an informed decision that best suits their situation.”

Some of the benefits to patients who choose to utilize the robotic technology include; less post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries, quicker return to normal activities, less risk of infection, less blood loss and fewer blood transfusions, less scarring, and fewer wound complications.

“There is less pain, tinier incisions, less risk of bleeding and quicker recovery,” Gedemer said.

If one is wondering about whether or not robotic surgery is right for them and their situation, they can talk to a provider.

For more information about robotic-assisted surgery, visit watertownregional.com/robotic-surgery or davincisurgery.com.

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Two fatal crashes Sunday in Trenton

TRENTON — The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has now reported two fatal crashes Sunday in the Town of Trenton after a bicyclist involved in a crash has died.

The first fatal crash occured at 5:25 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of County Highway AW and East Rock River Road.

The investigation revealed an 88-year-old bicyclist was southbound on East Rock River Road when the individual approached a stop sign at the intersection of County Highway AW.

At the same time, a pickup truck was eastbound on County Highway AY and was also approaching the intersection of County Highway AW.

When the bicyclist entered the intersection to turn east on County Highway AW the person was struck by the pickup truck.

The pickup truck driver was not injured in the crash. However, the bicyclist was taken to Waupun Memorial Hospital and then flown by Flight for Life to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

The bicyclist died Monday at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

The crash is under investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and the Dodge County medical examiner. Assisting at the scene were Waupun Fire Department, Flight for Life and LifeStar EMS.

The second crash happened at 7:33 p.m. Sunday when one person was killed and two people were injured in a two-vehicle crash in Trenton.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt reported an SUV was eastbound on County Highway C while a northbound car on Jersey Road failed to stop for the stop sign and collided with the SUV in the intersection.

The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene by the Dodge County medical examiner.

A passenger in the car was transported by Flight for Life to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

The driver, who was the lone occupant in the SUV, was also injured and was taken to Waupun Memorial Hospital.

The crash remains under investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and the Dodge County medical examiner. Assisting at the scene were the Beaver Dam Fire Department, Beaver Dam paramedics, Flight for Life, LifeStar EMS, the Dodge County chaplain, Randolph police and the Dodge County Emergency Response Team.

The names of those involved in the two separate crashes are being withheld by the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.

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Masks remain optional in WUSD

Both sides of the masking/non-masking issue in the Watertown Unified School District urged the board of education Monday during public comment to “study the facts” as they again presented their cases for the beginning of the upcoming school year.

The district had decided earlier that masks will be optional as the students return to the classroom next week.

The board heard the citizens’ comments — many from people who have spoken to the panel about masking at other meetings — and moved along into its regular business for the evening. Boards and councils typically listen to citizens comments and concerns before and after their meetings, but do not reply or react directly to them immediately.

The Monday session included a Safe Schools Update by Superintendent Cassandra Schug.

According to Schug, “full, face-to-face” instruction for the year begins next week, as staff returned to the schools Monday this week. Schug said school buildings are ready for students to begin their educations in 2021-2022.

She said that face coverings will be optional in the Watertown Unified School District as the year begins, but will be required on busses and other school-related transportation as part of a federal mandate. All WIAA guidance will be followed as it governs athletics.

The superintendent also said that Riverside Middle School sixth grade students and freshmen at the high school were welcomed this week with a variety of activities to acclimate them to their new learning institutions and to, in general, prepare them for the start of the new school year. Officials said feedback on preparations for the school year, so far, has been positive.

Schug said leadership in the school district has been doing a great job of coordinating things for the year.

“We will be offering traditional activities, like homecoming and performances,” Schug said, adding classrooms will be configured for maximum distancing.

As part of her update, Schug said COVID-19 data will be posted to the school district’s website.

There will be a vaccine clinic Aug. 30 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Riverside Middle School and registration is encouraged. The Pfizer vaccine will be offered.

The superintendent said that Dodge and Jefferson County health officials will be working with those from the City of Watertown health department to handle the district’s contact-testing.

Transitional housing will continue on Church Street

Gene Schmidt beamed after the city’s plan commission granted him a conditional use permit Monday to continue a transitional home at 740 N. Church St.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “What a victory!”

The conditional use permit allows Schmidt to continue using the property as transitional housing, which is being supported by Adoration Abode, a Watertown non-profit organization providing for those in need. The permit allows him to have up to five men in the building.

Transitional housing is generally defined as supportive housing for a limited time period.

Watertown Zoning and Floodplain Administrator Jacob Maas said only five men, including transitional housing employees can occupy the building, but any more than five would require Schmidt to invest in a sprinkler system for fire safety.

Schmidt, who is president of Adoration Abode, said this is the second transitional home in Watertown. The other is at 1020 S. Third St.

“We have two men at the Church Street location, but the need is growing,” he said.

Schmidt said he does not help people battling with drug or alcohol addiction, but, instead, sends them to rehabilitation facilities. He also does not allow sex offenders into the transitional homes.

He said the three classes of people the organization would let use the home: people referred from the police department and local churches, veterans (but not those struggling with addiction) and people “who need a hand up, not a hand out.”

Before the conditional use permit was granted, Ken Berg, a Watertown resident and former council member, spoke in favor of Schmidt’s mission.

“That building was vacant for more than a few years,” Berg said. “We converted a building into active use. It’s providing a service for people in need. These buildings serve a purpose. I’m giving you my encouragement to allow it to stay to help people get back on their feet. Please allow it to continue. He’s (Schmidt) proven himself by providing a benefit to people going into his program.”

Anne Schmidt, Gene’s wife, also spoke positively about the transitional home on Church Street.

“There are 37% of the nation’s population living above the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) level (who can’t afford basic necessities), which means they are just one medical event away from the federal poverty level,” she said. “The need is here. We are doing our best to help those men who need it.”

Schmidt said he partnered with a local meat market to help two of the men get a job there.

“We are working to show these men they can get back on their feet,” Schmidt said. “We have seen it, too. The men have found jobs and, in some cases, got their own apartments. Those are wonderful stories.”

Watertown City Engineer Jaynellen Holloway thanked Schmidt for making the transitional housing work.

“I’m personally very pleased to see it get this far,” she said. “I thank you for making it work.”

Schmidt said the need is rooted in homelessness.

“If we can help put a roof over someone’s head and help the individual find a job the person is on his way back to being a productive resident of Watertown and a productive member of society,” Schmidt said. “That’s our goal here.”